Luis Suarez returned from a nine-game absence and found himself in a familiar place: right in the thick of the action. Suarez played the final 28 mintues of Liverpool’s scoreless draw with Tottenham Hotspur on Monday.
Two seperate bans cost the Uruguayan star five Premier League and four domestic cup games. His last appearance was in a 1-1 draw with Blackburn on Dec. 26 (a full six weeks ago), and the now-refreshed Suarez will likely be a key figure in the back end of Liverpool’s season.
Anfield was buzzing in the 66th minute, when he entered the game in place of Dirk Kuyt. It didn’t take long — around four minutes — for him to make his presence felt.
Influential Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker was the unfortunate recipient of a kick to the stomach delivered by Suarez. He was watching a high ball as it came down into his own penalty area, and Suarez swung his leg into the air.
The LFC attacker never had a chance to reach it, and his follow-through caught Parker in the stomach (and hand) with some force. The England international lay on the ground for a few minutes, and Suarez was cautioned by referee Michael Oliver.
Just over 15 minutes later, Suarez was at the center of Liverpool’s two best scoring chances of the second half. In the 86th minute, he headed Steve Gerrard‘s free kick straight into the safe hands of veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel. He was unmarked on the play, and will wish he could have angled it away from the well-positioned Friedel.
In the 90th, Suarez had another chance on goal. He controlled a knock-down from Andy Carroll near the spot and quickly took a shot. Defender Ledley King blocked his first attempt (Suarez thought he might have used his hand, but Oliver disagreed) and Suarez shot again — only for King to block that one as well. The ball then bounced up and hit Suarez’s hand and Oliver stopped play.
Suarez was influential in his near half hour of action. As LFC was dialing up the pressure, he spent most of his time playing near Tottenham’s last defender. He could not convert two scoring chances, but more training and playing time will see him add a bit of sharpness that he may have lacked against Tottenham.
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish talked to the club’s website about his decision to start Suarez on the bench. It was too much to ask him to play 90 minutes, but Dalglish is undoubtedly excited to have the LFC star at his disposal once again.
“He hasn’t played since December, so it would have been a bit unfair to throw him in,” Dalglish said. “He’s had half an hour — that will do him the world of good. That’s better than anything we can do at Melwood with him.
“Every time Luis gets on the ball you think he’s going to do something. We’re delighted to get him back.”
Review all the action from Monday’s game in our Liverpool Live Blog.
Photo via LiverpoolFC.tv
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